What is a CSV File?

CSV stands for Comma Separated Value. This file is simply a text only file. A CSV file can’t save formatting, formulas, or anything other than text and numbers. It saves the data in a simple table format, one that can be imported into almost any program.

How do you create CSV file?

A CSV file can be created in any text editor program. Information will be entered in rows, with each column separated by a comma. It might look something like this:

First Name, Last Name, City, State
Johnathon, Anderson, Dallas, TX
Katherine, Phillips, New York, NY

While this example may be extremely simplified, it shows how simple a CSV file is. Part of what makes a CSV file so invaluable is that because of its simplicity it can be opened with almost any text editor or spreadsheet application.

When to use a CSV file?

While it’s simplicity may initially make it appear to be an unnecessary document, it actually is extremely beneficial in transporting large amounts of information. Since they are a plain text document, they are easy to create, easy to import regardless of the software used, and are efficient at organizing large amounts of data. Businesses use CSV files to import and export important data. One way in which small online businesses use CSV files is to transfer customer shipping data from a record of sales into their shipping software, to quickly and easily facilitate shipping.

Tips for creating CSV files

While CSV files are fairly straightforward, there will occasionally be times where there is an issue.  Knowing what could be causing the issue will help you quickly and easily resolve the problem.

  • Make sure to use a character other than the comma as a delimitator if you need to use commas within the content. Other examples may be | or using tab spacing. This will prevent confusing in importing your data.
  • If you are using commas as a delimitator and must use commas within the text, protect that data field by using double quotes to protect the information.
  • If having trouble opening a file, ensure that it is a CSV file and not another type. Though similar in appearance, CVS, CVX, CV, and CVC files are not the same file type and cannot be used the same way. Try using a different application to open or convert these types of files.
  • Remember, CSV files can only save one page. If you are trying to convert an excel document that has multiple tabs, saving the document as a CSV file will only save the tab that you currently have open. Each tab will need to be saved individually in order to preserve your information.

In order to save your document as a CSV document, follow these steps:

  1. Open your selected document
  2. Select “Save As”
  3. Select the “Save As Type” option
  4. In the drop down menu click on “Text CSV (.csv) (*.csv)”

At this point you can export your document to other programs, or share it as needed. You’ll find that using CSV files can allow you to accomplish so much more.

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